THE FINE ART OF FUCKING UP by Cate Dicharry

THE FINE ART OF FUCKING UP

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KIRKUS REVIEW

In a debut novel that wallows in the angst of being 30-something and unsatisfied with life, Dicharry pulls the reader into the strange and frequently absurd world of art school while exploring the even stranger workings of personal happiness.

Nina Lanning is the administrative coordinator at the distinguished School for Visual Art, which, despite its prestige, extraordinary building and the fact that it has a Jackson Pollock painting hanging in its atrium, seems to be the home base for a collection of increasingly dysfunctional eccentrics. Nina’s boss, Ramona, the once exceptionally competent director of the SVA, falls into a cyberstalking-fueled obsession with a former romance-novel cover model and neglects her directorial duties. Nina finds herself overworked and placating a faculty that is either scheming, falling to pieces or involved in bizarre acts of revenge that include the clandestine frying of bacon in secret locations around the building. At the same time, Nina’s marriage to her handsome, “incessantly optimistic” husband strains under her stress and a growing sense of inexplicable discontent. When a catastrophic flood threatens the SVA, Nina forces herself into a mission to rescue the Pollock painting, which also makes her re-examine everything she assumes about happiness. Told in Nina’s voice, the novel suffers from an excess of mundane description and a strange lack of reflection, though its portrait of the academic art world is enjoyably cutting. As Nina says, “there’s no real consequence to the antics of institutional art, even when mean spirited. It is, literally and otherwise, all academic.” While the trials of art school reflect perhaps too obviously Nina’s emotional malaise, they are both funny and charmingly ridiculous.

A novel that offers a colorful and amusing portrayal of an art school’s strange quirks but trudges through the unexceptional realization that happiness is rarely straightforward.

Pub Date: April 14th, 2015
ISBN: 978-1-939419-25-5
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Unnamed Press
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1st, 2015




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